Indian Retail - Technology Opening New Growth Vistas

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India, the world's second-largest country with more than 6.30 billion people is expected to become the world's third-largest consumer economy with $400 billion consumer expenditure by 2025. According to Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog, "e-Commerce has revolutionized retailing in India and will play a major role in the country's growth story going for-ward". e-Commerce accounts for more than 10 percent of the country's GDP and around eight percent of employment. Also, this sector brought India on the first rank in the Global Retail Development Rankings 2017. e-Commerce in India is gaining traction from almost every industry, be it education or entertainment, and, the retail industry is no exception. As per India Brand Equity Fund (IBEF), Indian e-Commerce generated a revenue of $39 billion in 2017, which is expected to reach $120 billion (more than 300 percent) in 2020. With 51 percent annual rate of growth, the Indian e-Commerce market has changed the overall picture of the retail sector in India.

Initiatives To Innovations
Innovation is the sustainability factor of the most of businesses in the present era, but for retail, innovation is the be-all and end-all force because all the other growth factors such as quality services depend a lot on innovation. Many successful brands in the virtual sphere are now making affable entry into the physical retailing because of the brand's mass popularity, affordable real estate, and the arrival of retail 4.0. The idea of shopping in a walled structure might seem dull at first, but physical retailing is enjoying parallel growth with digital shopping formats. In fact, many internationally acclaimed brands that were serving Indian customers through e-portals are increasing their outreach through physical stores in India. With an objective to lure potential customers, brands are using strategies which are full of creativity and deliver a personalized experience to shoppers.

Technology To Strategy
The amalgamation of technology and creativity is touching to the point of culmination in the retail sector. From the point of purchase display to interactive kiosks which offer holistic information of a product are instrumental in enhancing customer engagement as well as satisfaction. Many times, customer study a product online, come to know its features, and then buy the product from a physical store. But, when it comes to making the payment, s/he once again choose a digital payment gateway.

Trends Which Are Making The Transition Swift And Futuristic:
• An All-New Experience: Product price and quality are not the only factors that directly influence the buying behaviour of a consumer. Above all, they always look for a highly engaging experience that makes them familiar with the brand, and friendly staff on the floor further en-riches their experience. In this context, it is often said that winning a consumer in a competitive marketplace through engaging shopping experience at a physical store is worth more than offering attractive discounts. No doubt, e-Commerce offers the best price to the customer but physical stores offer them a best-in-class shopping experience. Now, to offer customers personalised experience, many lifestyle and consumer durable brands are coming up with experiential store. Brands like Ikea and Apple are pioneers in starting this trailblazing concept. Unlike their traditional counterparts, in experiential stores, a customer can feel and experience the functions as well as aesthetics products. What's new is that they not necessarily have to wait to carry the purchase product home, or come back, and pick it up. Because product delivery is a hassle for busy customers in both online and offline purchases, retailers get them delivered at the customer's home, coupling experience with convenience.

• Combining Forces For Maximum Visibility: In the all-new changed scenario, e-Commerce is also annexing to offline mediums and the physical retail stores are maximizing their outreach with their entry into e-tailing. This strategy is not only making them ubiquitous but also adding more layers to their bottom lines. Where offline mediums bring authenticity to the brand, the on-line retail stores are best to browse a variety of products, and then comparing them on all aspects, from quality to price. As only 17 percent consumers in India are digital, the real value can be understood better in physical space where consumers search a product, make up their mind, but they take final decision only after interacting with it in the store. Retailers and shopping mall are now using these technologies to create compelling `phygital' experiences. There are many brands introducing new products to customers, getting maximum brand visibility, and delivering an unforgettable user experience, but either they are selling product online or offline. Today, a brand is distinguished with a kind of experience it offers, which cannot be achieved by remaining stick to traditional formats.

Better Deployment in Retail 4.0: Smart and inter-active technologies like IoT, Cloud, Robotics, A.I. and Additive Manufacturing, are reaping ultimate benefits from Big Data in the retail sector. Besides, with access to the real-time customer data and insights, retailers are now able to forecast consumer behaviour and planning their strategies accordingly. Hence, to meet the changing demands of the industry, there are humongous opportunities for working professionals in areas like digital marketing, market research, and IT. In the last fiscal, the Indian retail industry brought 13.05 percent new job opportunities, and this momentum is expected to be maintained in the coming years, too.